Where bigotry is part of the Scottish psyche

21st March 2003 at 00:00
In response to Michael Russell's article ("Taking Catholic point of view," TESS, February 28), I am that friend who is "passionately opposed to the very existence of Catholic schools".

However, I feel that he misunderstands my views. Although I have never said that Catholic schools cannot or do not deliver a high standard of education, I am passion-ately opposed to state-sponsored segregation of children, having witnessed the effects of it first hand.

I recall our local shopkeeper in Lanarkshire evicting some pupils with the words: "You Catholics get out of here until I've served the Protestants." I remember being quite horrified at the time and ashamed of being seen to belong to that apparently preferred group.

Is Michael aware of the huge offence he causes by the im-plication that it is only possible to deliver education in a loving, caring manner with high moral standards within the Catholic sector?

I'm sure I would be greatly impressed if I were to visit any Catholic school. Michael was also invited to visit the school at which I now teach in Argyll, but was unable to attend.

We hope that, had he managed to visit, he would have been impressed by our talented, caring and confident children, that he would have been assured of the commitment of the staff, of our interest in the total well-being of the children and of our desire to ensure they reach their full potential educationally and personally. There are many other non-denominational schools with which Michael would be impressed.

It is insulting to suggest that because teachers are not "approved by the Roman Catholic Church" they are unsuitable to deliver a morally appropriate education.

The fact that Catholic schools are able to provide an acceptable, indeed often admirable, education is not an argument for their existence, when an acceptable, indeed often admirable, non-denominational option also exists, without causing unnecessary segregation.

Why does Michael not now go to Israel and tell those who are running the school recently high-lighted in the media which is educating Israelis and Palestinians side by side that it's not such a good idea after all?

Let's all be as lily-livered as our politicians, throw in the towel and accept bigotry as a part of the Scottish psyche.

Fiona Hamilton Inveraray

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